Mention a sea mine, and many people might assume you’re speaking of a World War II relic—covered in seaweed and algae—but sea mines are still actively developed and used today and pose a significant threat to U.S. military, allied, and commercial shipping, particularly in narrow passages and transit lanes.
These self-contained explosive devices are placed in waterways to harass, damage, or destroy surface ships or submarines. They’re a low-cost option that are also used to either deny access or even force vessels to a certain area. Their destructive force can be extensive.
As part of its sea mine countermeasure efforts, the U.S. Navy commissioned the development of the Airborne Laser Mine Detection System (ALMDS), which can detect, classify, and localize floating and near-surface moored mines. The ALMDS is integrated into the MH-60S helicopter to provide a rapid wide-area reconnaissance and assessment of mine threats using a pulsed laser light to image areas potentially containing mines.